Ten must-visit attractions in Macao

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland. With only 11 square miles (29 square kilometers) of land area, Macao might be small, but it's certainly not lacking in things to do. Here's our pick of the top 10 attractions from beaches to bungee jumps and everything in-between. If you thought Macao was all about casinos and gambling, think again!

1 The Ruins of Saint Paul's: blend of western and eastern architecture

First completed in 1580, the church of St. Paul’s and its surrounding structures harmoniously combine Renaissance and oriental styles, blending western and eastern architecture with fine carving and a towering spectacular façade.

2 Hac Sa Beach: great place for families

The largest and best-known beach in Macao is Hac Sa Beach.

Located on the south side of Coloane Island, the beach is a kilometer long and is famous for its black sand. It gets its unique color from minerals in the seabed that are washed ashore.

3 Senado Square: one of the four largest squares in Macao

Senado Square (Largo do Senado) is a public square in Macao. It is located in the central area of the Macao Peninsula.

In 2005 it was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List as it forms part of the Historic Center of Macao.

4 Macao Tower: highest commercial skyjump bungee in the world

One of Macao's most recognizable landmarks, the Macao Tower, completed in 2001,offers unparalleled views across the Macao territory and the South China Sea.

It was designed by Gordon Moller, a famous New Zealand architect. The construction was finished on the 2nd anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland. It was the eighth highest tower in Asia and the tenth in the world by the year of its completion. It is also a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

5 Guia Fort and Lighthouse: overlooks Macao from peninsula’s highest summit

The fort was built in 1865 to defend the region, and was the chief observation post during colonial times.

Because it had been an important military base, an air raid shelter was constructed underground, which was transformed into an exhibition corridor in 2003.

6 A-Ma Temple: one of three famous Buddha halls in Macao

Approximately four hundred years ago the Portuguese landed on a sea promontory near a temple. They asked the local inhabitants the name of the land, but the locals misunderstood, thinking that the Portuguese were asking for the name of the temple. So they answered "Ma Ge".

Later, the Portuguese translated the name into "Macao" and used it to refer to the land. A-Ma Temple is one of the three famous Buddha halls in Macao.

7 Fortaleza do Monte: testimony of Macao's old relics and history

Monte Fortress Castle, also known as St. Paul Monte Fortress, Central Monte Fortress, or Great Sanba Monte Fortress, was constructed from 1617 to 1626.

Monte Fortress was completed during the ruling years of Emperor Xizong in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). It played a vital role in defending Macao against the invasion of Holland in the Battle of Macao in 1622.

8 Historic Center of Macao: numerous western buildings exhibit features of different religions

The Historic Center of Macao was formed in the mid-16th century when the Portuguese began to settle and trade in the southwest area of the Macao Peninsula. Macao subsequently developed into a main port in China open to the outside world before the 19th century. It was also an important international port in Asia.

Having grown prosperous through international trading, Macao attracted more settlers from countries around the world. These people brought their different cultures, their social customs, and their religions to this area and built houses, churches, streets, fort and even a cemetery. This area is the core part of what is now called the Historic Center of Macao.

9 Taipa Houses-Museum: five houses with Macanese architectural characteristics

While Macanese Houses showcase colonial-style living spaces and Houses of the Portugal Regions focus on regional Portuguese traditional costumes and crafts, Houses of the Islands offer a rare glimpse into the history of Taipa and Coloane Islands.

Art exhibitions from around the world are displayed at the Exhibition Gallery, and official receptions and cultural events are held at the House of Reception.

10 Macao Fisherman's Wharf: Macao's first theme park

It was built on the new reclamation coast, near the Macao Ferry Terminal, Macao Cultural Centre as well as Golden Lotus Square. With an area of more than 111,500 square meters, it collects entertainment, shopping, restaurants, hotels, marinas, convention and exhibition facilities, and combines different architectural features as well as Chinese and Western culture. It hopes to make visitors break geographical boundaries and experience the feel of different areas.

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